Cisco Without Borders

Cisco has introduced a new network architecture: the Borderless Network architecture, along with a five-phase plan designed to help deliver services and applications to anyone, anywhere, on any device, at anytime. As the first proof point of its Borderless Networks architecture, Cisco announced the second generation of its Integrated Services Router, the ISR G2.

October 29, 2009

3 Min Read
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Cisco has introduced a new network architecture: the  Borderless Network architecture, along with a five-phase plan designed to help deliver services and applications to anyone, anywhere, on any device, at anytime. As the first proof point of its Borderless Networks architecture, Cisco announced the second generation of its Integrated Services Router, the ISR G2.

The ISR G2 is designed around several key points identified as critical for future network deployment. The points include business video (which Cisco research says will increase to 77.6 percent of network traffic by 2012), service virtualization (as part of the broader network virtualization movement), operational savings and a borderless network experience, defined as a network in which locations, devices and applications are all delivered without regard to a user's or client's physical location.

According to Sashi Kiran, product manager for Cisco, the number of enterprise branches is anticipated to grow by 17% over the next two years, so branch-office capabilities are important directions for products. Branch and remote offices are critical to Cisco's Borderless Network Architecture, as the company hears from their customers that they need to see corporate services delivered to employees regardless of where the employee is sitting. Kiran says that the general networking capabilities will be several notches higher than the previous generation, and that Cisco is trying to get away from basic "feeds and speeds" comparisons, preferring to talk about the nature of the services delivered by the new-generation routers.

Kiran says, "The emphasis is on delivering richer collaboration and video experiences, with lots of emphasis on video and [quality of service] issues." As an example, he says that the new routers are video-ready, featuring Medianet -- hardware and software to support video conferencing. He also points to video surveillance and Webex (Cisco's web-based remote meeting and collaboration service) as explicit targets for the services delivered through the ISR G2.

In order to deliver on the services, Kiran says that the ISR G2 moves from 160 GB local video storage to 1TB storage per module and is built around improved CPU performance, so multiple protocols can run with desired quality simultaneously.In talking with Kiran, the most prominent impression one comes away with is the emphasis Cisco is placing on video services in the enterprise network. Once seen as a novelty, video is in the process of becoming the tail that wags the enterprise network dog. To an even greater extent than VoIP, we're now hearing router and network optimization hardware vendors talk about building network infrastructures focused almost exclusively on the needs of IP video.

In the same way that Interstate-grade highways are built for the needs of heavy 18-wheeled trucks, with passenger cars basically riding along on the coattails of the big rigs, video is now driving the needs assessments and quality concerns of corporate networks that, until recently, were all about the needs of basic file and database serving. The requirements of video are such that it may sound quite reasonable to build network around those needs. It's best to keep in mind the complete lessons of the Interstate, though: while designing the pavement around the needs of the big rigs works well, when it comes to safety equipment and access speeds, the equipment that is perfectly suitable for tractor-trailers can be deadly for family sedans. It would be foolish to become so enamored of Web 2.0 services that we completely lose sight of more prosaic requirements. Cisco may well have kept all traffic types in mind while designing the ISR G2 (and I have no reason to doubt that they have), but the broader industry trend should be carefully watched.

The Cisco ISR G2 portfolio is available now, with pricing as follows:  the Cisco ISR G2 1900 Series starts at $1,595; the Cisco ISR G2 2900 Series starts at $1,995; the ISR G2 3900 Series starts at $9,500, Ala-Carte Services Ready Engine Modules starts at $1,000, Ala Carte Video Ready DSP Modules (PVDM3) starts at $800 and the Etherswitch Modules start at $1295.
 
The base price for the ASR1002-F chassis (ASR1002 System, Fixed ESP,Crypto 4 built-in GE, 4GB DRAM ) is US $20,000.
 

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